Protests across Kurdistan, some turning violent, over delayed salaries and the continued stalemate between the five main political parties over the presidency have compounded an already difficult situation gripping Kurdistan.
If the ongoing war with the Islamic State (IS), lack of budget payments from Baghdad, plummeting oil prices further constricting revenues and not forgetting the 1.3 million refugees already in Kurdistan were bad enough, the constant bickering between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Change Movement (Gorran), Kurdistan Islamic Union and the Kurdistan Islamic League and lack of a consensus on how to resolve the presidency issue after Massoud Barzani’s original extension expired on 20th August 2015 has made matters worse.
Two protestors were killed and a large number were wounded in Qaladize following strikes and demonstrations that merely added fuel to the fire.
Political unity and stability is needed to guide Kurdistan through the unprecedented crisis, yet unity has been tough to come by.
Finger pointing, animosity and continued wrangling has meant that consensus over the presidency issue has been almost impossible. Amidst the backdrop of increasing protests across the region came the ninth meeting between the political parties to resolve the presidency issue but was suspended as the parties yet again failed to reach a breakthrough.
As the political stalemate continues, there is no doubt that elements are stirring tensions on the streets. But there is only way to resolve this crisis and this is ultimately through parliament, dialogue and ultimately if required through the polls.
The onus and responsibility is on political parties to urge calm and ensure tensions on the streets do no quickly snowball into much bigger catastrophe. But above all, such parties must deal with the matter with the urgency that it deserves.
Thousands of Peshmerga are putting their lives on the line in a brutal war with IS and at a time of increasing strategic standing of the Kurdistan Region in the ever volatile Middle East, internal instability and lack of unity is backfiring.
At a sensitive juncture for Kurdistan, the only true friend of the Kurd is the Kurd himself. Do not expect Baghdad to come running to resolve the economic crisis or defend the region, whilst even Western interests will be always be through their narrow lens.
A polarized Kurdistan, crippled by a lack of money, lack of political unity and increasing violence on the streets will only weaken the Kurdish hand.
Even the consensus government, which at least in theory was a key milestone, was a misnomer. Every side criticizes the government and rival parties, yet ironically they all constitute as part of the same government.
There is a deeper desire to unearth gaps and flaws in each political party and settle scores than work together, which makes a mockery of any notion of a unity government.
The unique opportunity afforded by the rapid unravelling of the Middle Eastern landscape does not come often. Kurds have waited decades to escape repression and become a force in the Middle East after years of second class status.
Now the time has come to look at the bigger picture – unity is not just needed within the Kurdistan Region but across all of its parts.
How can Kurdistan ever seek great unity amongst its components or even outright independence if it cannot pull itself out of a crisis even at a time when many evils and problems are knocking on its door?
First Published: Kurdish Globe
Other Publication Sources: Various Misc